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Salem Riverfront Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

The Union Street Bridge from Wallace Marine Park (bobcat)
The Willamette Queen at Riverfront Park (bobcat)
A.C. Gilbert's Discovery Village at Riverfront Park (bobcat)
The gravel pit at Wallace Marine Park (bobcat)
The walk along the Salem Riverfront (bobcat) Courtesy: Google Maps



In 2003, the City of Salem bought the Union Street Railroad Bridge (opened in 1913) from Union Pacific for $1 and spent $3.2 million converting it into a bicycle/pedestrian path that connects the east and west banks of the Willamette in downtown Salem. You may now walk the riverbank cottonwood corridor at Wallace Marine Park and then safely cross the river to enjoy the attractions of Salem’s Riverfront Park. At low water, beaches are exposed at the base of the bridge on the Willamette’s west bank and balmy weather sees throngs from the state capital enjoying time near the water.

If you are walking around Riverfront Park first, first head along the path paralleling Front Street to the beautiful and classic carousel. Pass the restrooms and the playground, then some picnic tables, and finally reach the Eco-Earth Globe and the Peter Courtney Minto Island Bridge, due to be dedicated in August 2017. The bridge will connect walkers with Minto-Brown Island Park’s trail system - see the Minto-Brown Island Loop Hike.

Turn around, and walk downriver to overlook the Willamette Slough and pass an amphitheater. At the statue of a fisherman, a path leads down to the public dock, which is the home port for the Willamette Queen, a sternwheeler built in Newport, Oregon. Then take the sidewalk along Water Street, getting views of the river. Near the noisy Highway 22 overpass, you will see on your right the colorful Victorian homes that comprise A.C. Gilbert’s Discovery Village. One block later, come to the Union Street Bridge, now converted for pedestrian/bike use.

Cross the bridge and loop down to a gravel parking area. Signs point to the Edgefield Trail, which is really a sidewalk-style path that runs between Highway 22 and Edgefield Street in West Salem. Instead, cross the road from the parking lot to pick up a paved trail heading down the river in the cottonwood corridor on the Willamette shore. There’s a viewing area, and then the trail becomes a lane of wood chips. Offshore is a long, narrow island that joins with the mainland at low water periods. The trail, with many offshoots, eventually reaches the softball field complex at the north end of the park. You can continue here on user trails that form a confusing tangle in the woods. You'll pass the flooded Wallace Park Gravel Pit, encounter a series of mountain bike jumps, negotiate a sea of horsetails, and may end up, past a rusting car body, at private property.

Note that Wallace Marine Park is in for a major realignment of its roads and trails (see the Master Plan link below).

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Parks closed 12:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m.
  • Dogs on leash
  • Picnic tables, restrooms, playground


Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • The Willamette River Field Guide by Travis Williams
  • The Dog Lover's Companion to Oregon by Val Mallinson

More Links

Page Contributors

Oregon Hikers Field Guide is built as a collaborative effort by its user community. While we make every effort to fact-check, information found here should be considered anecdotal. You should cross-check against other references before planning a hike. Trail routing and conditions are subject to change. Please contact us if you notice errors on this page.

Hiking is a potentially risky activity, and the entire risk for users of this field guide is assumed by the user, and in no event shall Trailkeepers of Oregon be liable for any injury or damages suffered as a result of relying on content in this field guide. All content posted on the field guide becomes the property of Trailkeepers of Oregon, and may not be used without permission.